Smalley InstituteSmalley Institute

Research in RQI encompasses advanced materials, quantum magnetism, plasmonics and photonics, biophysics, ultracold atom physics, condensed matter and chemical physics, and all aspects of nanoscience and nanotechnology. In addition, numerous research efforts are focused on the development of innovations and emerging technologies, translating many of the scientific breakthroughs first seen here at Rice into useful applications that will benefit society.  Below are RQI members who are also Smalley Insitute members



Michael R. Diehl



physical biology; intracellular trafficking and transport; macromolecular self-assembly; biomotor mechanics; drug delivery; macromolecular systems bioengineering; super-resolution microscopy


 Rebekah Anna Drezek



optical spectroscopy and imaging instrumentation for tissue diagnosis; metal nanoshells for cancer detection and therapy, drug delivery, and tissue welding; nanoshells for optical coherence tomography; surface enhanced Raman scattering sensing with nanoshells; quantum dots for biomedical imaging

Jianpeng Ma


molecular dynamics simulation of supermolecular complexes

Robert Raphael


examination of membrane mechanics; effect of salicylate and other Aspirin like molecules on lipid membranes; liposomal mediated delivery methods

Jacob T. Robinson

  Nanofabricated neural interfaces; Optical, genetic and electrophysiological interrogation of circuit dynamics; High-throughout nano-bio devices

Tomasz Tkaczyk



development of modern optical instruments for bioengineering; novel imaging instruments and systems for the early detection and treatment of cancer incorporating optics, opto-mechanics, electronics, software, bio-chemical materials

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


Sibani Lisa Biswal



self-assembling systems in nano and microfluidic systems; colloidal fluids; understanding and designing interactions among nanoparticles, biomolecules, and surfaces to achieve new types of functionality; interfacing biological molecules with inorganic substrates

Matteo Pasquali



interfacial and biological flows; multiscale modeling of complex flows of fluids; carbon nanotubes in liquids; visualization of single DNA molecules in process flows


Marc Robert



theoretical, experimental and computer simulation studies of the properties of matter; magnetic nanoclusters and carbon nanotubes; DNA and protein; ferroelectrics; disordered systems; magnetic nanoclusters embedded in metallic or semiconducting sol


Michael Wong


nanostructured materials, heterogeneous catalysis, and bioengineering applications; chemical approaches to assembling nanoparticles into functional macrostructures; solar cells; nanoparticle assembly; heat transfer fluids in quantum dot synthesis; catalytic processes of nanoparticles; surfactants in nanoparticle synthesis



Cecilia Clementi



model and characterize protein systems on a realistic time scale; dynamics of polymer translocation through nanopores; statistical mechanics techniques, molecular modeling and simulations to the study of protein systems, with a particular interest in protein folding and dynamics


Vicki Colvin




confined liquids and glasses; porous solids; size-exclusion chromatography; nanopurification of water; uniform nanocrystals; virus crystals as nanocomposite scaffolds; synthesis of monodisperse iron oxide nanocrystals by thermal decomposition of iron carboxylate salts; recycling size-exclusion chromatography for the analysis and separation of nanocrystalline gold


Robert Curl  


infrared laser spectroscopy and dinetics of free radicals; mid-infrared quantum cascade laser based off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy for biogenic nitric oxide detection; monitoring of ethylene by pulsed quantum cascade laser; formaldehyde sensor using interband cascade laser based quartz-enhanced photoacoustic spectroscopy

Paul Engel



chemistry of free radical initiators and inhibitors of polymerization; single electron transfer mechanism in the functionalization of SWCNTs; SWCNT in biocompatible shell-crosslinked micelles



Jeff Hartgerink



supramolecular chemistry; synthetic collagen mimics; amphiphilic peptides; tissue engineering and regeneration; drug delivery; controlled mineralization of inorganics; self-assembly of nanofibrous alpha-helical coiled-coils; surface enhanced Raman and infrared spectra of peptide conjugated nanoshells; design and synthesis of peptides that bind CNTs; self-assembly of peptide-amphiphile nanofiber scaffolds for dental stem cells

Robert Hauge



high-pressure carbon monoxide process (HiPco) process for making carbon nanotubes; nucleation and growth of vertically-arrayed single walled nanotubes; semiconductor properties of CNT; armchair quantum wire; nanofibers; SWCNT coated polyacrylonitrile based carbon fiber

John Hutchinson


nanotechnology education

Bruce Johnson


quantum mechanical investigation of the molecular near-field response for molecules adsorbed on silver nanoshells, to understand molecule-metal nanostructure interactions, especially in the context of surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS); applications of wavelets to quantum dynamics; dissociative resonance Raman spectroscopy; development of pulsed multiline excitation DNA fluorescence technology

James L. Kinsey


dynamics of simple chemical reactions or molecular collisions; dynamics of decomposition of photoexcited molecules; photoemission during photodissociation

Anatoly B. Kolomeisky


complex chemical and biophysical processes using statistical mechanics; polymer translocation through nanopores

Chrisy Landes   developing ultrafast multiple-dimensional spectroscopic techniques and applying them to investigate the interpalys of photons, electrons and nuclei in molecules and molecular assemblies in condensed phases


Stephan Link



absorption and scattering spectroscopy of single metallic nanoparticles and nanowires, plasmon coupling in 1-D assemblies of nanostructures, diffusion of nanoparticles probed by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, anisotropic solvation of rod-shaped nanostructures in liquid crystalline solvents, and single molecule imaging of molecular machines

Angel Marti



photochemistry of fullerene; quantum dots in biomedical applications; supramolecular chemistry; inclusion compounds in fullerenes; proteins self-assembly

Gustavo Scuseria


theoretical chemistry; ab initio computational quantum chemistry; density functional theory; development of new methods for molecular electronic structure; applications to nanostructures

James Tour



molecular electronics; nanotubes for health applications; chemical self-assembly; conjugated oligomers; electroactive polymers; combinatorial routes to precise oligomers; polymeric sensors; flame retarding polymer additives; carbon nanotube growth; synthetic modifications and composite formation; hydrogen storage on carbon nanotubes; synthesis of molecular motors and nanocars; use of the NanoKids concept for K-12 education in nanoscale science; methods for retarding chemical terrorist attacks

R. Bruce Weisman


nanotube electronic structure; near-infrared fluorescence spectroscopy; SWCNT spectroscopy; biomedical imaging

Ken Whitmire


inorganic and organometallic chemistry; clusters of the heavy main group elements and transition metals; metal alkoxides, carboxylates and their conversion to metal oxides

Qianfan Xu   developing ultrafast multiple-dimensional spectroscopic techniques and applying them to investigate the interpalys of photons, electrons and nuclei in molecules and molecular assemblies in condensed phases

Junrong Zheng
  developing ultrafast multiple-dimensional spectroscopic techniques and applying them to investigate the interpalys of photons, electrons and nuclei in molecules and molecular assemblies in condensed phases


Eugene Zubarev



functional organic-inorganic nanostructures; mechanisms of molecular self-assembly; taxol-functionalized gold nanoparticles; amphiphilic gold, platinum, and palladium nanoparticles; optical properties and fluorescence of CdS quantum wires and nanorods

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Naomi Halas



optically active nanostructures; nanofabrication strategies to build, orient, and pattern nanostructures into materials and devices; characterize and understand the physical properties of optically active nanostructures, devices, and materials

Kevin F. Kelly



plasmonic near field optical microscopy tip for surface enhanced spectroscopy; surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy and microscopy; atomic force microscopy; scanning tunneling microscopy; scanning probe microscopy; single-pixel camera imaging; nanomachines; polymer nanostructures; carbon nanotubes; novel imaging instruments

Junichiro Kono


optical terahertz in semiconductor nanostructures and devices; high operating temperature infrared detectors; high magnetic field phenomena in CNTs; coherence in SWCNTs; vibrational dynamics of nanostructures; magneto-photoluminescence spectroscopy; time-resolved far-infrared spectroscopy; infrared photoluminescence spectroscopy; time-dependent photoluminescence spectroscopy

Daniel Mittleman


colloidal photonic crystals; sources, detectors, spectroscopy, waveguides, imaging, and sensing with terahertz radiation; near-field terahertz imaging and spectroscopy; terahertz plasmonics and metamaterials

Jacob T. Robinson
  Nanofabricated neural interfaces; Optical, genetic and electrophysiological interrogation of circuit dynamics; High-throughout nano-bio devices

Isabell Thomann
  Energy, photocatalysis, ultra fast spectroscopy and nanophotonics; applying nanophotonic concepts to advance renewable  energy and photocatalysis

Frank Tittel


quantum electronic devices; laser spectroscopy; nonlinear optics; laser-materials; interactions with applications in medicine and microelectronics

James Young


optical/photonic devices and their application to solving scientific and technical problems; physical layer of optical fiber communications and optical sensing

Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Pulickel Ajayan


nanomaterials in energy generation and storage; multifunctional composites; nano-enabled bio-mimetic systems; nanoelectronics; nanosensors; active nanosystems

Enrique Barrera


thermoset nanocomposites with nanotubes; metal matrix nanocomposites; ceramic nanocomposites; nanotube shielding materials for space applications; materials for radiation protection; ceramic nanocomposites with nanotubes and nanofibers

Jun Lou


materials related issues and device developments for MEMS/NEMS applications; size effects in mechanical integrity and electrical properties of metallic nanostructures; interfacial behavior of NT/NW reinforced nanocomposites; novel nano-fabrication methods with implications for bio-nano interactions and sensing applications

Boris Yakobson


fullerene nanocage for hydrogen storage; electron transport of nanotube-based gas sensors; dislocation dynamics in multi-walled carbon nanotubes; real time microscopy of fullerene evaporation

Physics and Astronomy

Michael Deem


physical theories of pathogen evolution; vaccine design; Newton's laws of biology; structure, nucleation, and function of zeolites

Rui-Rui Du



quantum mechanical properties of electrons in low dimensional and nanoscale semiconductor structures and devices; ultracold electrons in low-D semiconductors and nanostructures; wavefunction engineering of individual donors for Si-based quantum computers; quantum transport measurement of the Si-nanostructures produced by atom-scale scanning tunneling microscopy patterning technique

Barry Dunning


using Rydberg atoms as a nanoscale laboratory to examine electron-molecule collisions at ultra-low electron energies; new generation of spin-sensitive spectroscopies for investigating geometric, electronic and magnetic properties of bulk surfaces and thin epitaxial films; surface chemistry to thin film magnetism

Jason Hafner


single particle spectroscopy of gold nanoparticles; development of a new tip technology for recognition AFM to enhance the ability to probe specific biomolecular interactions; fluid electric force microscopy; biosensing; biomembranes; optical properties in biomedical materials; shape-dependent plasmon resonances of gold nanoparticles; biomedical applications of plasmon resonant metal nanoparticles

Huey Huang


nanoscale structures formed in membranes; micromanipulator studies of vesicles to peptides; application of membranes and peptides in nanotechnologies

Randy Hulet


physics of atoms at ultra-low temperatures; Bose-Einstein condensation and quantum degenerate Fermi gases; realization of model condensed matter systems with ultra-cold atoms; superfluidity/superconductivity

Ching-Hwa Kiang


single-molecule dynamic force spectroscopy.; statistical Physics; protein folding; free energy reconstruction using Jarzynski's equality; DNA mechanics; protein-nucleic acid interactions


Thomas C. Killian



ultracold plasmas and fundamental questions about matter at extremely low temperatures; manipulating biological systems with electric and magnetic fields

Neal Lane


policy perspective on nanotechnology

Emilia Morosan


discovery, synthesis, and characterization of new materials with delicately balanced ground states; itinerant magnets; heavy fermions (HF); charge density wave (CDW) systems; superconductors (SC)



Douglas Natelson


nanoscale physics, in particular the electrical and magnetic properties of systems with characteristic dimensions approaching the single-nm scale; nanostructures for single-molecule sensing; nanoscale magnetic sensing; nanophysics of solid state systems; electrical properties of nanowires; transport and electronic correlations in nanodevices; electrically-driven phase transition in magnetite nanostructures; electronic conduction and coherence in nanostructures with molecules; quantum effects in nanoscale electronics

Peter Norlander



theoretical investigation of the electronic structure, transport, and optical properties of nanostructures using analytical methods such as Plasmon Hydridization theory and numerical methods such as Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) studies


Carl Rau



surface science; nanomagnetism; nanomagnetic devices; non-volatile, nanomagnetic random access memory (RAM) cells; nano-magnetic microscopy; nano-magnetic logic devices; nano-magnetic classical and quantum computing

Qimiao Si



theoretical condensed matter physics; strongly correlated electron systems, including magnetic heavy fermion metals, high temperature superconductors, and mesoscopic and disordered electronic systems

King Walters


experimental atomic and molecular physics; physics of surfaces; manifestations of electron spin; spin-sensitive surface probes